by Pinkie & Mike.
Bitters ‘n’ Twisted opened their sixth venue nearly two years ago, venturing away from their usual city centre locations and opting instead to refurbish a traditional pub in the leafy suburb of Harborne. Located on a quiet back street less than a minute’s walk from Waitrose on the High Street, the quirky wallpaper and funky accessories mix well with the original features.
After a slow start, last summer saw it very successfully convert the old bowling green into one of the biggest beer gardens in Birmingham. A perfect place to spend a summer’s evening or lazy weekend afternoon. Be warned…if you decide to venture over on a warm sunny weekend afternoon, chances are most of the locals will have done exactly the same thing, so expect it to be very busy!
The front bar, when staffed, has been opened up to increase the sense of space without losing the cosy feel. The warm open fire is the backdrop to an intimate restaurant area. It has a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere with gentle funk jazz music playing in the background.
As you would expect for a “Steak & Ale House” the food here majors on beef, all sourced from organic rare breed Hereford and Longhorn cattle. There is a large steak selection from the Grill (where you can opt for a 24oz Longhorn T-bone steak to share should you be hungry enough). If that isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other options to choose from, including oven roasted cod loin with chorizo and free range pork belly. They have recently introduced a new cheaper ‘Market Menu’, that varies from day to day and is available Monday to Saturday 12-3pm and 5-7pm. It is proving to be very successful – you can choose two courses for £12.50 or three for £15.50, with three options available for each course. If you have an eye for a bargain (who doesn’t!), the pub also has its steak and chips for a tenner every Wednesday night – it gets very busy so book in advance. For those early birds, they have started doing brunch on a weekend from 10am till 1pm, so if you fancy a good full English, eggs any way you want them or American style pancakes, you need to check it out. Our experience has been that the place is a little bit quiet for brunch, but the food is good.
On the drink side, with cocktails for £4 all day and night on a Saturday, it’s a great place to start or finish your Saturday evening. If it’s not on the menu, a few of the staff are talented enough to make pretty much any cocktail you want, although this won’t be part of the £4 deal. If you love your real ale (and I have to confess, we tend to prefer bland continental lager), you also won’t be disappointed, with their four casks rotated regularly.
We ventured over there on a Sunday evening. With only one person on the bar and one waitress, on the evening in question, we were initially concerned that the service would be slow, but as it turned out both staff were friendly with the right amount of attention.
The Sunday menu is reduced, as they major on their roasts, so I wasn’t able to have their delicious stake and ale pie.
We started with perfectly cooked Duck Scotch egg, that looked as good as it tasted. Gorgeously runny yellow orb oozed from the centre of the duck egg that was wrapped in delicious sausage meat, which in turn was covered in crunchy breadcrumbs, deep-fried to perfection.
For our mains we went for the Cabernet braised beef bourguignon with bou angere potatoes. The sauce was a well-balanced blend mix of rich red wine and sweet shallots. The beef was succulent and could be pulled apart with your folk.
Our other main was their traditional beer battered cod and triple cooked chip with homemade pea purée and tartare sauce, and it also proved to be a treat. The fish was perfectly cooked, moist and coated in a deliciously crispy batter, and the triple cooked chips were to die for. Just make sure you have a good appetite, as the portion sizes are extremely generous.
Our Bitters ‘n’ Twisted loyalty card came in handy. It’s not the best technology and doesn’t always work, but when it does you get five points for every pound you spend and each point is worth a penny. Points can be redeemed on all food and drinks across all of the varied Bitters ‘n’ Twisted venues*. Being our local, it meant we were able to pay for the whole meal and drinks with points. I don’t want to think about how much that actually means we have spent in the place, but it’s been worth it, and we will definitely be back for more!
*Bitters ‘n’ Twisted venues: Bodegas; The Jeckyll & Hyde; The New Inn; The Rose Villa Tavern; Island Bar; The Victoria.